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The Study Diary

November 10, 2009

After seeing the picture and doing a very basic search of the topic, I decided to choose the Brian Walski photo to base on my study blog. The picture turns out to be a composite of two separate photos. Brian Walski adjusted the pictures to form a third, ‘ideal’ picture to publish to the LA Times. I was initially shocked that pictures could circulate and make their way to legitimate newspapers without being thoroughly checked out or inspected. I had obviously heard of fake and hoax photos about UFO’s, aliens and celebrities but the intrusion into photojournalism hadn’t sunk in yet. It seemed I was more curious to know what had happened to Brian Walski after the discovery had been made as opposed to why he did it. I think this was because I assumed the reason behind why Walski faked the picture was simply for career or financial reasons.

The second post was concluded after researching and finding out the extent of Walski being fired. The blog quotes Walski and a friend who converse over the matter and I discovered the state that Walski was described. I included it in my post as a sort of shock to what had happened to him. I was shocked myself as to his state, especially when hearing that he didn’t try to justify or deny the accusations.

After thinking about the whole Walski scenario and how he seemed to be made an example of, I wanted to simply see what else was out there on the Internet, and on quite a superficial and almost trivial basis. The research lead me to a lot of tabloid hoaxes about celebrity dates and ‘shocking pictures’ and actually quite bored me.

The point of that section of research was just to simply get a grip with the understanding that these days manipulation in any form seems more popular than ever.

Soon after being bored with tabloid prints of Brad and Angelina on the beach, I tried to take a different approach by taking this topic to its furthest extreme, which seems to be subliminal messaging. The main connection that I made between the two was simply the deceit and its goals.

After moving on to staging photos I found myself confidently doing the research with more passion. The topic seemed to interest me a lot more when I was finding genuinely relevant and interesting posts. I was interested in the fact that photojournalists tampering with what they consider ‘the scene’ to their advantage was quite interesting and how sneaky their intentions can be. After seeing so many photos (some included in the post) it almost dawned on me how many times I had seen something similar. There had been countless times that I had seen a memorable child’s toy in some sort of bomb rubble or wreckage and it almost shed a light on the not so innocent world of photojournalism.

This mentality took me to the other posts, learning about myself that the darker side of an industry or person seems to interest me more than anything else. I’ve always been interested in what seemed more unknown to me, such as conspiracies and finding out what ‘wasn’t supposed to be seen’. And so I think this mentality guided the rest of my research, looking for something I had never seen or heard before. This was definitely achieved after learning about Spirit Photography and how the media uses its dark side in the media with propaganda.

Concerning time management I feel like I handled the blog well, spacing out my entries with time to reflect but as the entry dates show I usually followed my research with another entry when interested, and when I wasn’t, I stopped. The time management was also a bit harder than originally perceived because my flat doesn’t have Internet yet and so the research had to be done at school at certain times as opposed to natural, motivated research.

After using famous war photos as evidence to suggest that this has been going on for decades I felt as if my research was coming to slow stop. The Robert Capa information about his fake especially interested me because of all the attention it gathered so far after its original release. The comparison to Walski seemed similar enough to weigh them against each other because of their reputations and what it their forgeries had done to them.

I picked up my research again with interest after seeking ‘the best of photoshop’ to discover the world of recognition and talent that follows the photo illustration industry. This research progressed into the ethical boundaries that the photography industry faces and how they can challenge photographers to do their job accurately. I felt as if the artists on websites like www.artistsofphotoshop.com, www.worth1000.com and many more really do deserve the recognition that they get because they are truly talented at what they do, contrary to the debatable ethics. My research lead me to find the people who didn’t have any debate over their photos, and who have created visual milestones in our history. The first was Robert Kennedy’s death, showing the dying man lying on the ground surrounded by people. The photo has captured his pain and the presence of death has never seemed so real. The second photo was chosen because this is one of the biggest achievements in our scientific world and the photos and footage that came from the moon landing will be forever remembered. Concerning the moon landing as a mission there is serious speculation towards the legitimacy of the operation especially regarding the issued photos. I am aware of the blatant irony that I have included one of the most famous photos as legitimate when there is ample speculation over its authenticity but I feel as if the debate over the moon landing highlights my argument. The moon landing is a historical moment and the fact that its validity is debatable only highlights the fact that photo alteration and manipulation is more evident than it has ever been. If the moon landing was real then the photo deserves to be on the top of anyone’s list, but if fake then I think it deserves equal recognition because it could well be ‘the most famous fake’. ‘The Last Jew of Vinnitsa’ is powerful in the sense that it really does sum up the atrocities of WW2 and everything that it entailed and I felt almost obligated to include it. The Kevin Carter photo of the small, starving African child being preyed upon won him the Pulitzer prize and has made an impact on his work, and also my mind. I chose those certain photos becaue they all have a lot to say in them and the historical implications before and after are really important. One thing that I noticed also was that the majority of the photos involved death and that death on camera is usually rare enough to shock people into thinking harder about the image. Death in any circumstance draws out a lot of emotion and to have death freeze framed right in front of you can make a photo really worth more than a thousand words.

The final piece of the blog; the conclusion was made to try and get across the feeling that I had gotten over my time researching the photojournalist industry. The fakes that had flooded my screen after hours and hours of research, and news of Walski, Capa, Rosenthal and Rothstein using fakes made my trust and faith keep decreasing. The honesty from photographers is undeniably evident when comparing the real photos to all the fake photos but the fact remains that fakes are making their way across all avenues of our lives, which will only make trusting other photos even harder. The distrust in the industry saddens me because I can recognise the very acute talent that needs to go into the process and although we might have been dealing with fakes for years, I feel it will only get worse.

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